Beautiful stories unfold organically. Then, caring storytellers polish them, trim the frills, and present them in a way we can understand them easily.
But not all stories are beautiful. Some are pushed and prodded along, herded like cattle in a meat processing factory. They are injected with chemicals to make them seem like more than they are. Important events that did happen are left out, while fictional ones are added.
The end result looks a lot like a beautiful story, but it isn’t. The narrative is spun, and if we manage to untangle it, only a few threads will be left.
It’s impossible to identify all corrupted stories, let alone reduce each one to its original, true components. Thankfully, neither is required. All it takes is for you to realize the story has been tampered with. How exactly? That doesn’t matter as long as you stop buying the story as a whole. Once we bring more skepticism to a narrative, much of the damage of falling for a corrupt story has already been mitigated.
When a former president has his mugshot taken — an event that has never taken place in the history of the country — and promptly posts said mugshot to social media along with a link asking for donations, you know there’s a narrative being spun. In politics, almost all narratives are. Does it mean he is guilty? Does it mean he is innocent? No one knows. The important part is that a presidential mugshot is not a good precedent for a country to set, regardless of the reason for the photo. That’s a story headed in the wrong direction, which means it’s time to pay attention and think for yourself.
Watch out for spun narratives. It’s always a good time to tell beautiful stories, but often, half the job is recognizing when a tale has gone off the high road.